In modern studies of the NT canon, there is a lot of discussion (maybe even obsession!) with so-called ‘lost’ books of the Bible. So, we have recent book titles like Lost Scriptures, Forgotten Scriptures, and The Lost Bible.
In fact, scholar Philip Jenkins even wrote a whole book documenting (and critiquing) the academic community’s fascination with this theme: Hidden Gospels: How the Search for Jesus Lost Its Way.
So what do we with these other books of the New Testament? A few quick thoughts.
First, most of these books weren’t really ‘lost.’ The early church fathers were very much aware of these other books. Indeed, they knew them well enough to recognize they were not authentic apostolic writings.
So, no one hid or suppressed these books. On the contrary, early Christians were quite open about the problems with these books and overtly stated why they should be rejected as part of the biblical canon.
Second, most of these ‘lost’ books weren’t really that popular. Unfortunately, many modern studies of canon give the impression that early Christians read these lost books in droves. It was only when later church authorities decided to clamp down, we are told, that the popularity of these books waned.
But the historical evidence says otherwise. [Read more…]